'Priority cabins' on trains on trial next year for seniors, wheelchair users
SINGAPORE — Navigating the MRT system can be challenging at times for pregnant women, seniors, wheelchair users and parents with young kids in strollers.
SINGAPORE — Navigating the MRT system can be challenging at times for pregnant women, seniors, wheelchair users and parents with young children in strollers.
So, next year, people in these groups and others who need a seat will get a chance to try out “priority cabins” on MRT trains, in a pilot trial by the Land Transport Authority (LTA). The pilot will be on an MRT line yet to be identified.
The priority cabin trial is just one initiative being rolled out by the LTA in its effort to make public transport here more accessible to those with mobility needs.
It is looking at implementing wide-ranging infrastructural enhancements across its transport networks and mature residential estates to help achieve this goal.
Other projects include: Removing all barriers for wheelchair users in their commute and a trial speed limit reduction in selected “silver zones” — designed to protect vulnerable pedestrians such as older people.
The plans were announced on Saturday (May 25) by Senior Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary as part of the Land Transport Master Plan 2040 — a report containing the 20-year blueprint for Singapore’s transport needs.
It comes after public consultations with thousands of stakeholders. The aim is to make public transport here safer and more inclusive, and “foster a more caring and gracious commuting culture... regardless of their needs”.
To evaluate if LTA’s plans are on track to meeting its goals, it will continually consult and collaborate with voluntary welfare organisations and a new “commuter advocate” panel comprising seniors, people with disabilities and parents of young children.
PRIORITY CABINS, PRIORITY QUEUES
The pilot trial of priority cabins is part of LTA’s efforts to “nudge people into becoming aware of others’ needs” through infrastructural design.
Priority queues for those same groups of people will also be implemented at all MRT stations by the end of 2019, and at all bus interchanges by 2021.
To further assist people who need a seat on trains, passenger service centres across all MRT and LRT lines will be offering a so-called “please offer me a seat” identifier that will indicate their needs to other passengers.
The Heart Zones initiative, which was initially launched at Outram Park station for volunteers to assist older, frail and disabled commuters travelling to the nearby hospital, will also be expanded to all MRT stations and bus interchanges, where practical.
LTA said it will continue to enhance training for transport workers to ensure that they are well-equipped to assist people with disabilities.
To help wheelchair users navigate public transport, LTA has planned to update its facilities with ramps and lifts for the mobility-impaired to better circumvent barriers such as stairs, curbs and fare gates.
By 2020, all bus stops and public buses will be wheelchair accessible. The current trial for hands-free fare gates will also be extended to more MRT stations if the trial proves successful.
Older taxi stands built before 2008 will be updated to be “barrier-free”.
LTA will work with taxis, private-hire car companies and relevant agencies to increase the affordability and the number of wheelchair-accessible vehicles available
More lifts will be installed at pedestrian overhead bridges by 2022, including 28 that are near hospitals and polyclinics.
By 2040, buses will have displays screens that will inform passengers of upcoming stops and transfers to MRT or LRT stations. Audio announcements for the next stop will also be made for the benefit of the visually impaired.
At all major public transport facilities, signs will be revamped with larger fonts and Braille.
Stroller restraints on all public buses will be installed by the end of next year.
All new bus stops will have seats with armrests available, making it easier for the elderly to stand. Existing bus stops will be retrofitted with the armrests starting with the first batch of 2,300 bus stops by 2021.
More covered linkways will be built to connect public housing estates to bus stops and train stations. These linkways will include benches for people to stop and rest.
SAFER STREETS IN RESIDENTIAL TOWNS
With Singapore’s ageing population, roads and paths in residential towns must be updated to reflect the needs of seniors who may have difficulty traversing the streets, LTA said in its report.
To this end, it has committed to complete road safety installations at 50 mature estates, or “Silver Zones”, by 2023.
These safety installations include narrower roads, speed humps and two-stage crossing that allow people to pause safely in the middle of the street crossing.
At the Committee of Supply Debate in March, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Transport Baey Yam Keng said that 15 Silver Zones have been completed and LTA is “on track” to complete the remaining 35 zones on time.
In selected Silver Zones, a trial to lower the speed limit from the current 40km/h to 30km/h will be conducted.
Following calls to do away with discretionary right-turns following two fatal accidents at traffic junctions in 2018, LTA will continue to install red-amber-green arrows at about 1,000 junctions by 2023.
This will be expanded to the remaining junctions after 2030, but where it is not feasible to implement controlled right-turns, LTA will install other safety features such as turning pockets, “give way to pedestrian” signs and lit road studs.
Two newer safety features currently on trial will be reviewed and implemented at more places, if found to be effective. These are the LED traffic light strips that are installed on the ground at pedestrian crossings, and the so-called “traffic calming markings” that encourage drivers to slow down.